September is National Sewing Month! If you are stitching, there’s a good chance your project will have a hem. Nearly everything you sew has a hem—skirts, pants, sleeves, and home décor items such as curtains and table linens. By using a few simple hints, you can turn this time-consuming chore into a simple sewing task.

Find my hemming tips and more in The Absolute Easiest Way to Sew, and watch on Sewing With Nancy’s three-part series on The Absolute Easiest Way to Sew (Part OnePart Two, and Part Three).


Preparing the Hem

1. Fold up the hem.

  • Prepress the hem on each flat piece before stitching it to another piece. This is a great time-saving technique.
  • Use a hem gauge, such as the Single Fold Press and Hem Guide Set to provide an accurate measurement and to avoid leaving a hem impression on the right side of the fabric. Place the gauge on the wrong side of the fabric.
  • Fold up the hem allowances over the gauge to the desired width and press.
2. Grade the seam allowances within the hem area to reduce bulk.
3. Finish the cut edge of the hem by zigzagging or serging.

Machine Stitched Hem

  • Set the machine for a straight stitch.
  • Machine stitch the hem along the top edge.
Note from Nancy: Use a rubber band or attach the 6-in-1 Seam Gauge, on the free arm of your sewing machine to help you guide the fabric in an even distance from the fold of the hem.

Hand Stitched Hem

  • Thread a needle with a single strand of thread.
  • Cut the thread about 18″ long. The thread will tangle and knot more easily if it is too long. Knot one end of the thread.
  • Fold the back hem edge so that 1/4″ of the edge shows.

  • Work from right to left, taking a tiny stitch in the hem; then take a tiny stitch in the project about 1/4″ ahead of that stitch. Pick up only one or two threads in the fabric.
  • Take a stitch in the hem edge about 1/4″ ahead of the last stitch.
  • Repeat, alternating stitches between the hem edge and the project. Don’t pull the stitches too tight or the hem will pucker.

Blind Hem

  • Fold back the project edge so about 1/4″ of the hem edge shows.
  • Attach the Edgestitching Foot or the Blind Hem Foot to your sewing machine.
  • Adjust your sewing machine for a blind hem stitch as detailed in your owner’s manual.
  • Place the fabric under the presser foot. Turn the flywheel by hand towards you until the needle fully swings to the left. If the needle “bites” too much of the fabric or doesn’t catch the fold, adjust the guide on the foot so that the needle only stitches through the fabric fold.

  • Continue by slowly stitching, so that the straight stitch falls in the hem allowance and the zig just catches the project at the fold.

Note from Nancy: Consider using a soft clear invisible thread such as 60 wt. Madeira Monofil, when stitching the blind hem stitch—a great ready-to-wear technique.

Fusible Hem

Using unbacked fusible web for hemming
  •  Cut strips of Wonder Web Fusible and place along the wrong side of the hem edge.

  • Serge or zigzag the fusible web to the hem edge. If you zigzag, be sure the web doesn’t extend past the hem edge or it will stick to your iron when you fuse. Trim off any web that goes past the edge.

  • Fold under the hem. Measure so the entire hem is the same width. Pin.

  • Press per manufacturer’s directions.

Using paper-backed fusible web for hemming
  • Cut a 1/2″–3/4″ wide strip of paper-backed fusible web, or purchase the precut paper-backed fusible web on a roll.
  • Position the web side of the paper-backed fusible to the wrong side of the hem. Place the web 1/4″ below the hem edge. Press.

  • Remove the paper backing.

  • Fold under the hem; measure so the entire hem is the same width. Fuse.

Read more in The Absolute Easiest Way to Sew. Chapters include:

  • Sewing Notions
  • Sewing Machine Confidence
  • Serger Spotlight
  • Patterns
  • Fabric Facts
  • Sewing Basics
  • Beyond the Basics

The Absolute Easiest Way to Sew by Sewing With Nancy ZiemanWatch The Absolute Easiest Way to Sew (Part One, Part Two, and Part Threeon Sewing With Nancy online.

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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